Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

Prominent tournaments throughout the world now offer so much information — photographs, live games, standings, and even in some cases commentary — that it can be said that watching chess is now an independent recreation, akin to watching baseball or hockey. Unfortunately, it will never be a general subject of conversation in most social circles.

One present focus of attention in chess circles is the International Chess Federation’s (FIDE) Renova Group Grand Prix tournament being played in Zug, Switzerland. It was originally scheduled for Portugal, but the promoter, Agon, was unable to raise money for it there. So FIDE switched the tournament’s location where it found funding from the Renova Group and Victor Vekselberg, its chairman of the board who is a longtime chess fan. Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana both gave up entries into the US Championship in St. Louis to play in the Switzerland event. However, Gata Kamsky plans to play in both; finishing in Zug on May 1, and then flying to St. Louis on May 3. It will be very interesting to see how this turns out for him. The Grand Prix’s website is: It offers standings, live games, and other information. After five rounds, the leaders are Alexander Morozevich and Veselin Topalov.

The US Championship (24 players) and the US Women’s Championship (10 players) runs May 2-13. The US Championship tournament will be a Swiss tournament format; while the women’s competition will be a round robin. Blessed by marvelous prizes, the US Championship will have an exciting cast, with the presence of veterans and several prodigies, who may be outstanding candidates for world accomplishments.


The list of entries reveals that Kamsky is the top seed (No. 17 in the world), but he will face a number of formidable contenders, including Timur Gareev (No. 70), an Uzbekistan GM, who won the 2013 North American Open. We will also watch chess prodigies Kayden Troff and Sam Sevian to see how they fare against top-flight competition.

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We rarely acknowledge the passing of prominent chess players in this column, but one loss that we feel obliged to mention is that of Robert Byrne. He was a former Indiana University lecturer in philosophy and the longtime chess columnist of The New York Times. His best performance was qualifying for the World Championship Candidates’ matches in 1973. Sadly, he was eliminated by Boris Spassky in 1974. He was the royal game’s “Courtly Gentleman,” blessed with a watchful and caring wife, Maria von Krebs, who was a regular attendant at chess tourneys with him.

Brevity: V. Popov v. S. Movsesian (2002): 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c6 3.d4 d5 4.e3 Bg4 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Qxf3 e6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.0–0 Bd6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.Rd1 Qe7 11.Bd2 Rad8 12.Rac1 Rfe8 13.e4 e5 14.Be3 exd4 15.Bxd4 dxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Re1 Ng5 18.Bxh7+ Kf8 19.Qc3 Be5 20.Bf5 Bxd4 21.Qxd4 Ne5; 0-1

Winners: Eastern Class: 1st-2d, Mikheil Kekelidze and Alexander Fishbein: 4-1; 3d-4th, Marc Esserman and William Kelleher: 3.5-1.5; Boylston April Grand Prix: 1st, Jesse Nicholas: 3.5-.5; 2d-3d, Marc Esserman and Carey Theil: 3-1.

Coming Events: Metrowest 30th Anniversary Swiss; May 7, 14, 21, 28; 118 East Central St., Natick;; Boylston Thurs. Night. Swiss: May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and BCC Quads, May 4, both at 240B Elm St., Somerville;